Arken recently sent me their EP-5 5-25×56 FFP Illuminated Reticle scope to review. I’d seen this scope mentioned plenty of times on various enthusiast sites, and users generally had positive comments. So I figured I’d take one for a spin, and see what the hype was about. With an MSRP of $529.99, it hits a sweet spot for those just getting into NRL22, or shooters looking to upgrade from a more basic scope. And it does this without costing a small fortune. So let’s take a closer look, and see what it’s all about.
Arken EP-5 5-25X56 FFP Illuminated Reticle with Zero Stop – 34mm Tube
While the name is fairly descriptive, I’m going to break it down, as the target demographic for this optic may include some newer shooters. It’s got a magnification range of 5x to 25x, and a 56mm objective which lets in plenty of light. The illuminated first focal plane reticle is designed for speed and ease of holdovers. There’s the Arken Zero Stop system (AZS), and the main tube of the scope body is 34mm.Â Parallax can be adjusted from 25 yards to infinity via a side-focus knob. Eye relief is a reasonable 3.4 inches.
Turrets offer 1/10 MIL or 1/4 MOA per click, and the total elevation range is 32 MIL or 110 MOA. For windage, it features 16 MIL or 55 MOA. Arken offers the EP-5 in both MIL and MOA versions. While I have some MIL scopes, I requested their MOA version for this review, because I’ve been using mostly MOA scopes for about 40 years.
The Arken 34mm Combo Pack
Along with the scope, Arken sent their Combo Pack for 34mm scopes. This is a comprehensive kit that includes rings or a mount (0 or 20 MOA), as well as accessories. So it’s got a throw lever, bubble level, flip-up caps, and a rear bag. While that’s pretty nice, Arken also includes some extra swag in the form of a tee shirt, hat, a patch, and some stickers. At first glance, the $236.98 MSRP might seem steep. But they have their own coupon code (NSF25) to use at checkout. This applies a 25% discount to the entire order, so the Combo Pack ends up adding less than $50 to the total. That’s a solid deal. Arken also makes a donation to the Navy SEAL Foundation when you use this code. Win/win.
Unboxing the Arken EP-5
First impressions are pretty positive. This is a solid scope. It’s relatively compact for its range, at 14 inches. And it’s porky at 39.2 ounces. But it certainly doesn’t feel anything other than sturdy. Which is good, as my gear doesn’t get babied. The turrets seem huge, because they are. And this is accentuated by the large and highly legible engraving. Although I’m using this on a competition-style rimfire, it feels like it would be just as at home on a heavy recoiling centerfire rifle as well.
Not gonna lie, I like the combo pack. Rings and their Flip Its caps are super convenient. I’ve spent over $150 just for some 34mm rings. And more than $50 for caps. So the fact that it’s also got a throw lever and bubble level is icing on the cake. My wife will steal the shirt from me, and I’ll sweat through that hat in a month of Utah’s heat. But at least I got to mount the scope the day it arrived. No trips to the local gun shop, hoping that they have the correct height rings in stock.
Mounting the Arken EP-5
The first thing I did was grab the rings and mount the EP-5 on my Bergara B-14R. Yet no matter how I installed the throw lever, it seemed to interfere with the bolt handle. Most of my shooting is done at 25x. Making sure it was not in the way at 25x meant it was too far over at lower magnifications. While this is certainly a personal preference and not a flaw, I decided to install it on a 10/22* instead. Once I’ve got a few rounds downrange with it, I may swap it over to the Bergara.
Using the included rings, the bulge on the bottom of the scope, as well as the housing for the erector spring presented no issues. I had read that this was a cause of concern for some users, but there were no clearance problems for me. A couple of bubble levels and a torque wrench later, and I was nearly set. I threw the included Arken bubble level on too, as I do find them to be handy when setting up either prone or on my portable bench. A quick rough zero with my laser and it was off to the range.
After correcting the zero for my range and ammo choice, I shot a few magazines to get a feel for the scope. Adjusting the parallax was easy, with the dial being smooth and well-damped, while not overly stiff. Those super-legible turrets have a solid click and feel great. After running through a few hundred rounds, I did a quick tracking check using the box method, and it returned right to where I started. I’d previously heard great things about the Arken turrets, and was not disappointed. After I was satisfied that the turrets were tracking properly, I remembered to set the zero stop, which is explained quite simply in the online manual. I’ll probably never own another scope that doesn’t have this feature.
Of course, the reticle is pretty sweet too, though I never used the illumination, as it washed out in the bright sun. Where our targets were set up at known distances, it was fairly easy to use the reticle rather than the turrets to engage the farther targets. On one trip, we had a steel plate out at 200 yards, and I was able to hit that consistently with ease. Shooting subsonic .22 LR, there’s a fair amount of elevation required to make up for the drop, and then a noticeable delay between pulling the trigger and that quiet, but distinct sound of a tiny round bouncing off a steel plate. Whether dialing in some elevation, or just using the reticle, the Arken Ep-5 made it quick and easy to engage targets at various distances.
About that glass
Arken mentions Japanese ED glass, but doesn’t mention how many elements use it. Although that information might be nice to know, it’s not critical for me. I had seen some comments about chromatic aberrations, and fringing at the edges of the image. As a photographer, I understand that concern. I’m not expecting a $529 scope to match my Zeiss lenses though. If I was using this scope for hunting and needed that edge sharpness while scanning for game, I may feel differently. Instead, I’m really only concerned with image quality across the center of the scope’s field of view. If it’s sharp enough that I can see my target clearly, and see those tiny holes I made, I’m happy.Â Either way, the images through the scope were sharp, and with good contrast. If you’re after a scope that offers edge-to-edge sharpness, you’re probably not going to find it at the same price point.
I’m more of an enthusiast than a competitor or hunter. When I shoot, the most that’s going to be at stake is lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant. But I’ve outgrown the basic gear. When I had a $200 rifle and bulk ammo, my $80 scope suited me just fine. Now that I’m shooting match ammo out of a much more expensive rifle, I can appreciate the better glass and turrets. I’m sure that there are folks out there who will find something to fault with this scope, but they need to keep in mind the MSRP. My whole review is based on the value based on cost, which is where the Arken EP-5 excels. With its MSRP of $529.99, you really do get your money’s worth when it comes to performance. And that price leaves a fair bit of room to spend on a rifle and still stay in the NRL22 Base class.
I’d like to thank Arken for sending out their Ep-5 for my testing and evaluation.Â They turn out quality optics backed by a lifetime warranty, and if you’re in the market for a scope package under $600, they are certainly worth your consideration. Check out their full line at ArkenOpticsUSA.com.
*Full specs of the rifle shown:
JWH Custom bolt
KIDD two-stage trigger and stainless match barrel
KRG Bravo chassis
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